Vientiane Times, March 09, 2015 Construction of a hydropower project on the Hinboun River in Khammuan province kicked off on Friday, aiming to supply electricity to central Laos and boost development in the region. A ground-breaking ceremony took place in Thonglom village, Khounkham district, attended by the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs, Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, ministers and other high-ranking officials from Vientiane and the provinces. The government is the sole investor in the dam, which will have an installed capacity of 30MW. The project will cost more than US$89 million and is being financed through a loan from Thailand’s Krung Thai Bank. The run-of-river dam will take 36 months to build, with a projected completion date of June 2016. It will mainly generate electricity in the dry season for supply to central Laos. There is also strong potential for the development of irrigation systems to deliver water to 2,500 hectares of farmland in the lower river basin, which would enable local people to grow more crops for market sale. Officials said the project would have an effective outcome by facilitating development and helping to provide revenue for the local population and economy. Laos’ many rivers, forests and other natural resources mean the country has the potential to generate large amounts of hydropower. To explo it this potential, Laos is embracing interconnections, firstly, by exporting power to neighbouring countries on a project-by-project ba sis and, ultimately, by realising the goal of integrated system-to-system development and operations. The government recognises that hydropower can play a pivotal role in stimulating economic growth and driving poverty reduction efforts. As of September 2014, Laos had 25 o perational power plants (excluding projects of just 1MW) with a total installed capacity of 3,244MW. It is expected Laos’ total installed capacity will reach 12,500MW by 2020, with about 85 percent available for power exchanges with Thailand, China, Vietnam and Cambodia.